BILLY THE KID RODEO AND Musical Transformations

Alan Gilbert
Music Director
Musical Transformations
Resource Materials for Teachers
Education at the New York Philharmonic
The New York Philharmonic’s education programs open doors to symphonic
music for people of all ages and backgrounds, serving over 60,000 young
people, families, teachers, and music professionals each year. The School
Day Concerts are central to our partnerships with schools in New York City
and beyond.
The pioneering School Partnership Program joins Philharmonic Teaching
Artists with classroom teachers and music teachers in full-year residencies.
Currently 3,000 students at 14 New York City schools are participating in the
three-year curriculum, gaining skills in playing, singing, listening, and
composing. For over 80 years the Young People’s Concerts have introduced
children and families to the wonders of orchestral sound; on four Saturday
afternoons, the promenades of Avery Fisher Hall become a carnival of handson activities, leading into a lively concert. Very Young People’s Concerts
engage pre-schoolers in hands-on music-making with members of the New
York Philharmonic. The fun and learning continue at home through the
Philharmonic’s award-winning website Kidzone!, a virtual world full of games
and information designed for young browsers.
To learn more about these and the Philharmonic’s many other education
programs, visit the website, or go to the Kidzone!
website at to start exploring the world of orchestral music
right now.
Credit Suisse is the Global Sponsor of the New York Philharmonic.
to your School Day Concert!
he lessons in this booklet work together with the School Day Concert itself
to enable your students to put their ears to good use in the concert hall.
They will learn to notice, to describe, to compare and contrast. They will
explore how history becomes myth, and what tall tales have to say about us.
They will enter into a thrilling world of sound empowered to make their own sense of
what they hear.
This booklet is divided into five Units, each with its own number of Activities.
Each Activity is presented with an approximate timing, and every teacher can adjust
the lesson plans according to their students’ background and abilities. Elementary
Extensions suggest ways to take each concept further at the grade-school level.
Middle & High School Extensions provide ways to challenge those at the secondary
level and/or students studying music.
To help you implement the Units presented here, we also offer a teacher workshop
where our Teaching Artists will guide you through the lessons. It is important that as
many participating teachers attend as possible.
Expect a dynamic and challenging experience at the concert, where everything will be
both live and projected on the big screen. To make the most of the opportunity, play
the enclosed CD for your students and carry out as many of the lessons in this book
as you can. Enjoy the lessons, indulge in listening, and have fun at your School Day
Concert—see you there!
Theodore Wiprud
Director of Education
The Sue B. Mercy Chair
School Day Concerts
Teacher Workshop:
Monday, March 5, 2012
4:00–6:00 p.m.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
10:30 a.m.
The School Day Concerts are made possible with support from the Carson Family Charitable Trust.
Additional support comes from the Mary P. Oenslager Student Concert Endowment Fund and the Oceanic
Heritage Foundation.
Teacher Workshop:
This guide has been made possible through an endowment gift from Lillian Butler Davey.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
4:00–6:00 p.m.
The Credit Suisse Very Young Composers is sponsored, in part, by The ASCAP Foundation Irving Caesar Fund.
MetLife Foundation is the Lead Corporate Underwriter for the New York Philharmonic’s Education Programs.
Richard Mannoia, New York Philharmonic Senior Teaching Artist
Contributors: Evangeline Avlonitis, Teacher, PS 165
Elizabeth Guglielmo, Assistant Principal, Supervision – Music and Art, Bayside High School
Theodore Wiprud, New York Philharmonic Director of Education, The Sue B. Mercy Chair
Amy Leffert, New York Philharmonic Assistant Director of Education
Ted Dawson Studio
Thursday, May 24, 2012
12:00 p.m.
Friday, May 25, 2012
10:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.
Teacher Workshops:
Wednesday, March 7
and Thursday, March 8, 2012
4:00–6:00 p.m.
Friday, May 25, 2012
10:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.
All Teacher Workshops take place at Avery Fisher Hall
Helen Hull Room, 4th floor
132 West 65th Street, Manhattan
The Program
Making Score Composition Seminar
Joshua Weilerstein, conductor
Theodore Wiprud, host
reated as a groundbreaking program by the New York Youth
Symphony, Making Score provides aspiring composers under
age 23 with a series of rigorous seminars in composition. Based
on an advanced level study of orchestration, score reading,
compositional technique, and a full spectrum of musical styles and
genres, students work with prominent guest speakers who bring
their expertise directly to the students. Topics covered include
strings, woodwinds, brass, keyboard, percussion, vocal, electronics,
Broadway, film music, and scoring. In addition to an orchestration
session with American Composers Orchestra and workshops with
the Attaca String Quartet and the PUFF! wind quintet, students
work one-on-one with a mentor to help realize individual
compositions to be given premieres at Symphony Space. These
new works are performed by members of the New York Youth
Symphony’s programs in Orchestra, Jazz Band, and Chamber Music.
AARON COPLAND Suite from Billy the Kid (1938)
1. Introduction: The Open Prairie
2. Street in a Frontier Town
3. Mexican Dance and Finale
4. Prairie Night: Card Game
5. Gun Battle
6. Celebration: After Billy’s Capture
7. Billy’s Death
8. The Open Prairie Again
AARON COPLAND Selections from Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo (1942)
Buckaroo Holiday
YOUNG COMPOSERS Suite of New Works (May 24, 10:30 a.m.)
Calie Brooks (Age 11, P.S. 59 graduate) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Fast End
Jake Landau* (Age 16, Staples High School) . . . . . . . . . . . . .Spouting Bombast for Orchestra
Timothy Peterson (Age 18, Rye Country Day School) . . . . . .Movement
*Participant in Making Score, a program of the New York Youth Symphony
VERY YOUNG COMPOSERS Selection of New Works (May 24, 12:00 p.m.;
May 25, 10:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.)
Andre Alexander (Age 10, P.S. 24) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Midnight in New York City
Bryce Collings (Age 10, P.S. 24) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Out in the Woods
Jean-Carlos Garcia (Age 11, P.S. 108) . . . . . . . . . . . .Life in the Bronx
Milo Poniewozik (Age 10, P.S. 39) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The Globetrotter
Carol Sifuentes (Age 11, P.S. 59 graduate) . . . . . . . . . .A Street Fair/Town Gathering
Elijah Valongo (Age 12, P.S. 165 graduate) . . . . . . . . . .Philharmonic Piece
Credit Suisse Very Young Composers
reated by the New York Philharmonic’s Young Composers Advocate
Jon Deak, Credit Suisse Very Young Composers (CS-VYC) enables
students with limited musical backgrounds to compose music to be
performed by Philharmonic musicians. CS-VYC serves fourth- and fifthgraders as an afterschool program for the Philharmonic’s School Partnership
Program schools, middle-schoolers in the new Composer’s Bridge program at
Avery Fisher Hall, and children and teens in countries around the world where
the program has been introduced. In every locale, CS-VYC culminates in
astonishing works revealing the power of children’s imaginations. Around 100
compositions are played by ensembles of Philharmonic musicians, or even by
the full Orchestra at School Day Concerts, each year.
For more information, please visit
For more information, please visit
Teaching and Learning in the Arts
The Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts is a guide for arts
educators in New York City public schools. The Music Blueprint defines five
strands of learning, all addressed in these Materials for Teachers. In the course
of these lessons, your students will make music, develop musical literacy,
explore connections with other disciplines, get information about careers in
music, and of course take advantage of an important community resource, the
New York Philharmonic.
As the Common Core assumes center stage, the School Day Concert and
these lessons specifically focus on the idea of music as text, and music’s close
connections with literary and historical texts.
Billy the Kid and Rodeo
Musical Transformations
In the 1930s and 40s, the Brooklyn-born, New York-based
composer Aaron Copland forged a new sound that has ever since
been associated with the American West. His classic scores for the
ballets Billy the Kid (1938), Rodeo (1942), and Appalachian Spring
(1944) introduced novel ways of developing and orchestrating
American folk music. Copland distilled the essence of beloved
songs and hymns into symphonic forms, using modernist techniques
he honed while studying in France. The resulting music has proven
iconic and lasting in a way that the original melodies were not.
In a similar way, the story of Billy the Kid, an historical figure also from New York, has been
transformed again and again since his brief life ended. Tall tales, a genre familiar to most
children, represent the myth-making tendency of human beings. Being transformed into a
legend, his exploits exaggerated, Billy the Kid (or Henry McCarty, as he was named at birth)
has become an enduring figure in the American psyche. What did the popularity of this
young outlaw’s story have to say about the frontier in the 1880s? Why has he remained
such a fascinating and controversial figure?
This year’s School Day Concert, together with this book of lessons, invites your classes to
think about transformations musical, literary, and historical — how these various texts come
to be.
Transformation is of course also a theme of our lives, exemplified by Aaron Copland himself.
He was born in 1900 to a family of Lithuanian Jewish descent, grew up in the apartment
over his family’s general store on Washington Avenue in Brooklyn, and went to Boys High
School. The only musician in his family, he took composition lessons in high school (very
much like the Young Composers featured on this School Day Concert). Rather than going
to college, he went to Paris to study with the legendary Nadia Boulanger. He stayed for
four years in the company of many of the great writers and artists of the early 20th century,
and returned to the United States a sophisticated composer completely current with the
artistic movements of the day.
Unit 1
Tall Tales and Billy’s Story
In Unit 1, students will learn how Billy the Kid became a
legendary figure in American history. Activities explore
how tall tales, exaggerations, and artistic liberties mingle
fact and fiction to create the compelling plot of Copland’s
ballet suite, Billy the Kid.
In the mid-1930s, inspired by a visit to Mexico, Copland composed El Salon Mexico, freely
adapting several Mexican folk tunes. What was evidently an experiment in developing a
more popular style proved a big success, encouraging Copland to begin working similarly
with American folk tunes. He became the obvious choice for Lincoln Kirstein to commission
for Billy the Kid. "I cannot remember another work of mine that was so unanimously
received,” Copland said later. Billy the Kid was performed many times by the American
Ballet Theatre, and the suite of music Copland extracted from the ballet (heard in these
concerts) became standard orchestral repertoire. It was first played at the New York
Philharmonic in 1941, conducted by Alexander Smallens. The ballet Rodeo premiered the
following year in 1942, despite Copland’s hesitance to be labeled “the cowboy composer.”
American music — and the music of the world — has been greatly enriched by what the
New Yorker Copland called “a feat of the imagination.” We hope to inspire your students’
imaginations as we explore these great American scores.
Activity 1
Exploring Tall Tales
(15 minutes)
Read a tall tale about Johnny Appleseed, Pecos Bill, or Paul Bunyan,
or a similar figure.
Discuss: How would you describe this character? What parts sound like
exaggeration? What parts sound believable?
Activity 2
Creating Legends and Heroes
(15 minutes)
Students should choose a real-life person they know well, or a historical figure
they are familiar with, and write a one-paragraph biography about that person,
including details such as date and place of birth, family background, character
traits, experiences and accomplishments, and why they are special or famous.
Now guide students to rewrite that same paragraph only this time exaggerating
the details. How differently is this person portrayed now after having stretched
the truth? How do details change your feelings or perception about this person?
(15 minutes)
We will be looking at the legend of a controversial figure – Billy the Kid. Billy is
not presented as a role model for children – his primary claim to fame is having
killed 21 men in the 21 years of his life. Instead we are going to explore how
real-life figures can become the basis of tall tales and even inspire works of art.
For the ballet Billy the Kid, the choreographer Eugene Loring romanticized the
narrative of Billy the Kid and reimagined his story for artistic purposes. The
composer Aaron Copland composed music to tell that story. As Loring
described it, Billy the Kid is the story of one who had to be destroyed in order to
establish law and order – a pivotal figure in the conflict between rough
independence and settled society.
Before reading about or discussing Billy’s life, look at his picture. What kind of a
person do you think he was? Begin a class concept map by projecting his
picture on your interactive whiteboard and extending spokes from the picture in
order to list the students’ descriptions.
Share Loring and Copland’s version of Billy’s story with your students:
Elementary Extensions
Extension 1
Activity 3
Billy’s Story
Our story begins by setting the scene on the vast, open prairie of the American
West. Here we experience the loneliness, but also overwhelming greatness, of the
mountains and sprawling landscapes, and the striving of settlers making their way
West. We then travel to an old frontier town to get a glimpse of life on Main Street,
where 12-year-old Billy strolls with his mother. There are many people busy in the
town and they see cowboys, lassos, and horseback riders. They watch some
Mexican women dance a traditional jarabe, which is interrupted by a fight between
two drunks. Billy and his mom get closer to see the fight. One of the fighters fires a
gun and accidentally hits Billy’s mom. She dies and, enraged, Billy draws a knife
and kills the man who shot her. Billy runs off and begins life as an outlaw. The story
fast-forwards and we see teenaged Billy (now known as Billy the Kid) relaxing
under the stars and playing cards with his friends. His former friend, Sheriff Pat
Garrett, has been leading a posse to hunt him down for years. When they finally
find Billy, there is a long gunfight. Billy is captured and a celebration takes place.
Later on Billy escapes. But tracked down once again, he is shot down and dies.
The story ends as it began, back on the open prairie, now full of wagons moving
West. It will never be the same after the life and death of the infamous cowboy
criminal, Billy the Kid.
Compare the real-life story of Billy the Kid to Copland and Loring’s tall tale version
based on Billy’s legend.
In real life Billy is a very disputed figure. Depending upon whose side you are on,
he can be viewed as a folk hero among the Hispanic people of New Mexico
whose land he tried to save, or as a terrible killer who murdered and terrorized the
southwest in the 1880s and was killed at the young age of twenty-one.
He was born Henry McCarty, Jr. on April 28, 1859 to Irish parents in New York
City. He headed west after the Civil War in search of silver. After his mom died (of
tuberculosis, not a gunshot) and his father abandoned him, he fell into bad
company and began his life of crime. He murdered his first man in a saloon when
he was twelve years old, and for the next nine years was one of the most
industrious and generally admired bandits of the Southwest. He was a key figure in
the Lincoln County Wars – a bloody dispute between land barons in New Mexico.
By the end of his short life some people saw him as a voice for the
disenfranchised while others saw him as an outlaw and murderer. He was gunned
down on July 14, 1881. His story lives on today and his legend illustrates how a
skinny orphan boy was transformed into a larger-than-life man feared by many and
an icon of the Old West we still know today.
Extension 2
Extension 2
Have students bring in a photo of a family member or celebrity that captures that
person at his or her best: feeling proud, dressed up, or on a special day in his or
her life. Bring in a photo of the same person on a “regular day,” at a time when
As a class, identify a public figure who is controversial and either is alive today or
was alive during the past 50 years. Describe this figure’s glamorous, heroic side.
Describe his or her “dark side.”
nothing particularly remarkable was happening and in a setting very different from
the setting of the first photo. With the class seated in a circle, have each student
pass one of the two photos to the neighbor on his or her right.
Why is this person both loved and hated? Why was Billy both loved and despised?
Each neighbor will write a brief story about the person in each picture. Who do
you imagine the person in the picture to be? What story is the picture telling?
Extension Resources
Surf the web:
Find images of wanted posters of Billy the Kid
Visit and search “Billy the Kid”
m For a master source of information and links visit
Next, ask each student to pass the other photo to the neighbor on his or her left.
What story is that picture telling? Write a story on a separate sheet that captures
who you think this person is.
At this point, students return photos to their owners, accompanied by the story
written about each picture. After receiving back their pictures and two neighbors’
stories, each student compares and contrasts the responses he or she received
from the two neighbors.
Check out the following books to learn more about Copland or life out West:
Middle & High School Extensions
Rosie and the Rustlers by Roy Gerrard. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1991.
Cassie’s Journey: Going West in the 1860’s by Brett Harvey. Holiday House,
m If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon by Ellen Levine. Scholastic
Paperbacks, 1992.
m Aaron Copland (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers) by Mike
Venezia. Children’s Press, 1995.
Extension 1
Watch a movie:
Conduct a “jigsaw” study of Billy’s life by giving each student, or small groups of
students, a copy of a different brief account of Billy’s life, including the above two
descriptions and articles on Billy’s life found at (see the
“Curriculum Guide” tab).
Discussion/Reflection Question: How can two pictures of the same person tell
such different stories?
Direct students to read their articles and then visually depict one scene from Billy’s
life that was inspired by their reading (i.e., identify one fact or part of the story that
“captured you”). Have students draw a picture or a comic strip that illustrates that
fact or scene.
The Great Train Robbery by Edwin S. Porter. Edison Manufacturing Company,
m Billy the Kid by King Vidor. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), 1930.
m Stagecoach by John Ford. United Artists, 1939.
m The Grapes of Wrath by John Ford. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation,
When students have completed their pictures or comic strips, hang them around
the classroom like a gallery. Give each student two Post-Its. As they walk through
the “gallery,” the students will write down on each Post-It a word or phrase that
describes Billy the Kid. Students then stick their Post-Its around the concept map
they began as a class before reading about Billy. (The teacher can group similar
responses and return the next day with a streamlined concept map that includes
all of the students’ answers so far.)
Activity 1
Envisioning Landscapes of the American West
(10 minutes)
Discuss: What do we know about American geography? What kinds of
landscapes are there in our country?
Look up images of “prairie” or “open prairie” on the internet. What do you see in
these pictures? How do they make you feel? What would your experience be
like if you lived in that environment?
Activity 2
Journeying through “The Open Prairie”
(25 minutes)
Discuss: Picture yourself in a prairie landscape, exploring the wild frontier.
Imagine you are on a long, slow journey, traveling vast distances by foot, horse,
or wagon. How might you be feeling? (Tired, brave, hopeful, etc.). How might you
move your feet in this scene? Coach students to create a vocal sound to match
your slow or plodding feet. How could you “sing” those footsteps?
Unit 2
Creating Landscape
and Scene
Copland was inspired by the beauty and wonder of the
American West. Although Copland grew up in Brooklyn’s
Listen to “The Open Prairie” and encourage students to move slowly as the
music suggests.
Excerpt 1: The Open Prairie (Track 13)
What do you hear? How does this make you want to walk? How does it make
you feel?
Copland fills his prairie music with an interval (two notes in a row) called the
minor third. This is sometimes referred to as the “universal” or “natural” interval
since it predominates children’s singing and speech throughout the globe.
(Many adults may recognize this from the beckoning call from “Lassie.”)
Listen to the horn and then flute play minor thirds:
urban environment, he was able to capture stunningly both
Excerpt 2: The Open Prairie (Track 14)
the grand and understated qualities of the nation’s heartland.
Discuss: Does the minor third generate any mood or feeling for you? What
does it make you think of or imagine?
This can easily be played on the recorder with the notes C and A. Students can
try sounding the minor third by calling to each other by whistling, humming, or
even playing their recorders. Experiment with call and response, varying the
speed, and ornamenting.
Listen now to how Copland uses the minor third to paint a picture of the
open prairie:
Excerpt 3: The Open Prairie (Track 15)
How does Copland use the minor third? Which instruments get to play it?
How does it help create the prairie landscape? What do you imagine?
Put it all together by listening to the complete movement and hear how
Copland opens his ballet, conveying the brave and difficult journey into the
untamed American West. Students may wish to draw the landscape they
envision as they listen.
Introduction: The Open Prairie (Track 1)
Middle & High School Extensions
Watch and listen to “Flying” available from a link at (see the
“Curriculum Guide” tab).
Activity 4
Night on the Prairie (30 minutes)
Composers can create colorful and moody effects for a scene by creating
musical textures. Discuss: What are some words that we could use to describe
texture? (Smooth, rough, fluffy, prickly, glossy, etc.) One way to create musical
texture is to think of three layers or levels: low, middle, and high. Each layer is
distinct, having a quality like a melody, rhythmic pattern, or sustained notes.
In his “Prairie Night” scene, Copland creates a warm and gentle texture with
these three layers. Try them out by singing with your students.
In the lower level we hear cellos playing smooth, deep rising scales:
Melodic Fragment 1 (cello): Prairie Night (Track 16)
How does the “Flying” music capture the experience of flying?
Assign students to bring in a picture of a local landscape, paired with a song that
they feel captures the feeling of the landscape. Play the song while looking at the
landscape. What is it about that song that you believe captures the landscape?
Is it the words, the instrumental music, or both?
Now, listen to “The Open Prairie” while looking at an image of an open prairie.
How did Copland capture the feeling you get when looking at the prairie?
The middle layer is a more agitated, but “fluffy” part for flute, rocking back and forth:
Melodic Fragment 2 (flute): Prairie Night (Track 17)
Activity 3
The Scene of Billy’s Death (15 minutes)
The high level is a glossy, lullaby-like melody in the violins:
Review the section of the Billy the Kid story when Billy dies (see page 7).
Brainstorm and chart students’ predictions about how this musical scene might
sound. How could the instruments represent the feelings of this moment? How
can an orchestra make serious or somber sounds? How might Copland make
music to represent Billy or to represent onlookers?
Melodic Fragment 3 (violin): Prairie Night (Track 18)
Listen to Billy’s Death (Track 7)
Sing or try this on recorder:
What do you hear in this music? How would you describe the sounds of this
death scene? What do you think about the music being calm and slow? What
do you think about the absence of brass and percussion? What do you think of
the solo lines for the violin then harp? How does it make you feel? What might
that represent?
Make a Venn diagram to compare Copland’s music with students’ predictions.
How were our predictions similar to Copland’s music? What things were
different? What were you surprised by? How did you imagine the scene as you
heard this music?
Listen to “Prairie Night.” Pay attention to how these three levels of texture create
the beautiful and delicate night scene where Billy relaxes under the stars. Pay
special attention to how the texture transforms as the movement progresses.
Prairie Night: Card Game (Track 4)
Can you imagine the night scene as you hear the sweet and shimmering textures
of the orchestra? Can you hear all three levels in the texture? How do they work
together? How do the textures change throughout the piece? How does the
music tell us what Billy might be feeling? Does he feel sad, content, peaceful,
safe, or anxious?
Students may wish to draw this scene as they listen. Encourage the use of
textures and colors as inspired by the music.
For further multi-leveled textures, listen to Celebration: After Billy’s Capture (Track 6)
Elementary Extensions
The ecosystems of the prairie supported three types of grasses — tall, medium,
and short — as well as many other plants and animals. Some were burrowers, like
the prairie dog and ferret, while others roamed the prairie. Research a prairie
ecosystem at:
American Prairie Foundation
Prairie Plant Slide Show
Native American Prairies
Have students take a long sheet of paper and divide it horizontally into three
layers. On the bottom layer, ask them to draw the animals that would live
underground. In the middle and upper layers, ask them to draw the flora and
fauna you might find throughout the the prairie. Ask them to imagine these as
musical layers, as in Copland’s “Prairie Night.”
Middle & High School Extensions
Extension 1
Listen to Sade’s “Soldier of Love,” available from a link at (see the
“Curriculum Guide” tab).
Unit 3
Transforming Folk Songs
When Copland was commissioned to write Billy the
Kid he was given a book of old American cowboy folk
songs. He was inspired to incorporate them to give
authenticity to his truly American-sounding music.
However, Copland didn’t use them verbatim, but
rather transformed them using his own personal
composing style.
Discuss: Several times through this song, we encounter the lyrics, “…in the
Wild, Wild West, trying my hardest, doing my best to stay alive.”
With this line in mind, what kind of place was the Old West, according to Sade?
How did Sade create a musical texture (in the background music) that paints
the same picture as these words?
Which movement of Billy the Kid depicts the Old West in the same light Sade
does? Which movements present the Old West experience in a different light?
Extension 2
American Experience executive producer Mark Samels stated, "The West is a
place of mystery, a place of extremes.”
How does Copland portray the “extremes” of the Old West experience in his
“Git Along, Little Dogies” (Track 21)
Activity 1
What Is a Folk Song?
(10 minutes)
Folk songs are melodies made up by everyday people to be sung by everyday
people and they get passed down through the generations in the oral
tradition. Sung nursery rhymes are examples of folk songs that children
usually know. For example, “Ring Around the Rosie,” “Hush Little Baby,” and
“Bingo” are all children’s folk songs.
Form a group to brainstorm (and sing): What folk songs or nursery rhymes
do we know? How did we learn them? Do some of us know different
versions? If so, how do you think that happens?
m Discuss nursery rhymes: What are some things nursery rhymes have in
common? How do they compare to songs by professional singers on the
radio? Responses may include: catchy, memorable, singable by nonprofessionals, simple, repetitive, small range of notes.
Activity 3
Activity 2
Learning Folk Songs Used by Aaron Copland
(15 minutes)
Aaron Copland turned to cowboy songs to help create the musical world of the
American West. Listen to a few of the songs he used. Once you are familiar with
them, try singing and/or playing the melodies.
Transforming Melodies
(20 minutes)
Folk songs typically take on variation through the oral tradition. However,
composers like Copland sometimes borrow traditional folk melodies, but make
them their own using musical transformations.
What are some ways you could transform or change a melody besides
changing the words? How could you change the notes? Responses may
include: switch the order, notes go up instead of down, or use a different rhythm.
Try tracing the contour as you sing one of the cowboy songs. Now try changing
the melody in your own way.
Here is an example of Copland’s melodic transformation. Compare it to “GreatGranddad” on page 16.
“Great-Granddad” (Track 19)
As you can see, Copland kept the general outline, but transformed some of the
rhythms and swapped many of the notes in the second half of the tune.
“Goodbye, Old Paint” (Track 20)
Middle & High School Extension
Middle & High School Extension
Listen to the University of Michigan Concert Band perform Charles Ives’s
Variations on America, available from a link at (see the
“Curriculum Guide” tab).
Listen to song pairs (i.e., a song plus the original song it references) in each of
the following categories:
How does Ives vary the melody? What does he communicate about America in
each variation?
Now, have students select a song they remember singing in their childhood.
Have them perform it as they remember it. Then, ask them to change the song to
reflect something about who they are now, changing more than just the words
(if they are singing). For example, adding or changing something about the song’s
rhythm or tonality.
Song including sampling, for example Nicki Minaj’s “Right Thru Me” (clean
version) sampling Joe Satriani’s “Always With Me, Always With You.”
m “Re-styled cover” of a pre-existing song, for example Johnny Cash covering
U2’s “One,” available side-by-side from a link at (see the
“Curriculum Guide” tab).
Students may also explore and select their own pairs of samples, remixes, and
covers at
Ask students to list the contributions of the original artist and the contributions of
the “new” artist, then to respond to the question, “Did the 'new' artist steal?”
Next, think-pair-share about one or more of the following questions:
Activity 4
Why is it important for an author’s name to appear on his or her book cover?
m Why are the “credits” shown at the end of every movie when most people don’t
stay to watch them?
m How are people rewarded for their good ideas?
m When someone has a good idea, why and how should he or she be given credit
for it?
m Can someone own an idea?
Did the above discussion strengthen your initial convictions about whether or not
sampling and covering are stealing, or did the discussion prompt you to change
your mind?
Listening for Folk Songs in Billy the Kid
(15 minutes)
Listen to the following examples in which Copland uses the folk songs
presented in Activity 3 in his music:
“Great Granddad,” as heard in Street in a Frontier Town (Track 22)
“Git Along Little Dogies,” as heard in Street in a Frontier Town (Track 23)
“Goodbye, Old Paint,” as heard in Mexican Dance and Finale (Track 24)
Reflection: How did Copland use the instruments of the orchestra to play these
folk songs? How did he make changes to transform the songs? What kinds
of accompaniments and backgrounds did he use? Why did Copland use preexisting folk songs in his music for Billy the Kid? Is this being original? Why or
why not?
As your students advance, play the entire sections of Street in a Frontier Town
(Track 2) and Mexican Dance and Finale (Track 3) to hear how Copland extends
these folk tunes and even mixes them together.
In a “re-styled” version of a traditional Irish folk song — available from a link at (see the “Curriculum Guide” tab) — were the hip-hop artists
stealing? Why or why not?
Activity 1
Copland’s Use of Harmony
Unit 4
The Making of the
American Sound
By the mid-1930s, Copland faced a creative crisis.
His music had become increasingly dissonant and
mathematical and this was creating a distance
between himself and his audience. “I began to feel an
(30 minutes)
Harmony can simply be thought of as the sound resulting from combining two
or more pitches. Students can experiment with recorders to make harmonies.
Have two students or groups play the same pitch – that’s called unison. But
how does it sound when the two play different pitches? For example, try G + B,
G + C, and B + A. How do they each sound different? Is one smoother, sadder,
or spicier, than another?
Copland often sets his melodies using his distinct technique of parallel
harmonies. Just as parallel lines move evenly side-by-side, parallel harmonies
work the same way. If one note goes up, so does the other; if one makes a big
leap, the other does the same.
For example, here is “Hot Cross Buns” in parallel harmony:
increasing dissatisfaction with the relations of the
music-loving public and the living composer,” Copland
wrote. “It seemed that we composers were in danger
of working in a vacuum. Moreover, an entirely new
public for music had grown up around the radio and
the phonograph. It made no sense to ignore them
and to continue writing as if they did not exist. I felt
Students can experiment creating their own versions of parallel harmonies to a
melody they know or can compose their own. What happens when the harmonies
are closely spaced? When they are widely spaced?
what I had to say in the simplest possible terms.”
In the European tradition, independent lines that move in contrary motion were
common practice. Listen to how Copland breaks away from this European model
with his new sound of parallel harmonies. Notice how using parallel harmonies
can create new moods and colors in the orchestra.
Thus was born Copland’s newfound style that defined
Clarinets and oboe in The Open Prairie (Track 25)
the quintessential sound of American classical music.
Trumpet and trombone in Street in a Frontier Town (Track 26)
that it was worth the effort to see if I couldn’t say
Piccolo, clarinet, and xylophone in Celebration: After Billy’s Capture (Track 27)
Elementary Extension
If harmony can be thought of as the result of combining two or more pitches,
have students experiment with color mixing, using watercolors or crayons.
Create new colors off the color wheel and give them new names.
Middle & High School Extension
The instrumental background of Drake’s “Headlines” — available from a link at (see the “Curriculum Guide” tab) — is a modern-day example
of parallel harmonies.
Sing or play (chorus, band, orchestra) “Headlines” in parallel fifths, plus the
arpeggios and scalar melodic line you hear in the recording, to experience a
parallel harmonic progression.
Elementary Extensions
Activity 2
Transformations through Orchestration
(20 minutes)
Instruments are like a composer’s crayons and using them in different ways can
yield myriad orchestral colors. The way a composer chooses to use and blend
instruments is called orchestration. With your students make a list of ways a
composer might use one instrument in order to create different colors or sounds:
With/without mute
Learn to sing or play the opening melody of “The Open Prairie”:
Activity 3
Listening for Orchestration Transformations
Most people are familiar with the guitar, harmonica, accordion, banjo, and the
fiddle which are used to create American folk songs, but did you know these
come from Central and Northern Europe, Africa, and Asia? How were these
instruments transformed and reinterpreted to create the American folk songs we
know today? Make a T-Chart titled “Then/Now” and describe the transformation
of the folk instruments and music they created.
If you were to write a folk song for 2012, what issues would you sing about?
What traditions would you draw from? What instruments would you use?
How would your contemporary folk song sound different from the songs of 100
years ago?
Middle & High School Extensions
(15 minutes)
Listen to the first minute of “The Open Prairie” to hear the full orchestra used in
different colorful ways:
Introduction: The Open Prairie (Track 1)
Which instruments do you hear? How are they being played? What kind of
combinations are you hearing? What kinds of colors do you imagine? What
emotions are you feeling?
Now contrast to The Open Prairie Again (Track 8)
Aaron Copland drew from many musical traditions to create his American sound
out of everything from jazz to folk music. Visit the website PBS American Roots
Music,, to research the transformation of the
roots of American instruments and music.
Listen to some early folk songs online (search “Popular Songs in American
History”). Pick a song and study the lyrics and listen. Why did people write folk
songs? What was their purpose? What do you notice about the mood? The
instruments? Social issues of the time?
Students can try it out themselves or coach the Teaching Artist or music teacher
to play with multiple combinations from the list. How does the music sound
when the instrument color changes? What effects are created by these
changes? How does it feel?
This is how the music of the opening returns at the end of the ballet. How does
the same music sound so different? How has the music been transformed with
Copland’s new orchestration? How has the mood changed? What might this
mean after Billy’s death? Why does Copland go back to the opening music to
finish the piece?
Listen to another masterful example of Copland’s orchestration transformations
when he uses “Goodbye Old Paint” (page 16):
“Goodbye, Old Paint,” as heard in Mexican Dance and Finale (Track 28)
Have students compare and contrast the original recording of Nirvana’s
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” with a cello cover of it available from a link at (see the “Curriculum Guide” tab).
How does orchestration influence the overall feeling you have when
listening to each performance?
Now students can develop and perform (or arrange with classmates for the
performance of) their own cover of a song of their choice.
Why did you choose to orchestrate your cover in the way that you did?
Activity 1
Unit 5
Exploring Copland’s Rodeo
In 1942, Copland wrote music for another successful ballet
entitled Rodeo (typically pronounced [roh-DAY-oh]). In this
piece he tried to capture experiences of cowboy life.
This Unit will explore cowboy culture
and two sections of Rodeo entitled
“Buckaroo Holiday” and “Hoe-Down.”
Cowboys and Buckaroos, Another American
Transformation (15 minutes)
Discuss: We’re going to step back in time and imagine we are living in the 1880s.
Imagine a frontier town, cowboys, dust, horses, open spaces, and prairies
dominate your view. What else do you see?
Make a web and jot down students’ images and stereotypes of what cowboys
and life in the 1880s were like. What do you envision American life was like in
the 1880s on the prairie and in frontier towns? How was it different from today?
Elementary Extension
Compare images of cowboys and the Old West. Do a web images search for
paintings of Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell.
The term cowboy dates back 1,000 years and comes from Ireland. It means a
hired rider who looks after cattle. Mexican cowboys were known as vaqueros,
but Texan cowboys pronounced it “buckaroos.” From 1866 to 1886 the great
plains were a cattle kingdom. The cowboys did not rule the land — it was the
great land barons and powerful businessmen who controlled the land. By the
1890s and the invention of barbed wire, which limited the access of cattle and
contained them, the cattle kingdom and role of the cowboy on the prairie was
changed forever.
The heroic cowboys of Westerns are the invention of the movie industry. The
historical cowboy was a cattle drover. He was poorly paid. Indians were more
likely to be friends than enemies. In fact, cowboys were most often Native
Americans, African Americans, and Mexicans. The life of the cowboy was not
romantic. It was dirty, hard, and often dull. Life was harsh. In the West they lived
by a certain code of honor. Feuding was acceptable. They had their own form of
justice, as there were often no external laws. The people were semi-nomadic.
Not unlike knights in European legends, the American cowboys made their own
rules and lived by their own code of conduct. Outlaws were not uncommon and
there were many senseless, often violent, deaths.
Elementary Extension
Investigate “Fact/Fiction” by continuing to research the history of cowboys online
(for example, Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley) and how many stereotypes, in fact,
are just not true. Check out the education resources at
and information on the West at
Make a T-chart and begin to dispel the myths about cowboys by adding new facts
you learn as you research and distinguish between fact and fiction. Summarize
your findings: I used to think...... about the Wild West and the American cowboy
but now I know.....
“Sis Jo” (Track 30)
What was the real relationship between the cowboys and Indians? Why were
Mexicans, Native Americans, Africans all excluded from the myth of the Wild
West? How did Buffalo Bill with his Wild West shows help to create and
perpetuate the myth of the West?
Middle & High School Extension
Read articles and view videos about Black Cowboys in New York City,
available from links at (see the “Curriculum Guide” tab).
Copland creates sounds of the Wild West like horses galloping, whips snapping,
and cheering at a rodeo by using off-beats. Try the first phrase of “If He’d Be a
Buckaroo” clapping on the beat like this:
What surprised you when viewing/reading?
Activity 2
More Folk Songs in “Buckaroo Holiday”
Now try off the beat like this:
(30 minutes)
Once again, Copland found inspiration in folk traditions for Rodeo. In “Buckaroo
Holiday” he used the following tunes:
“If He’d Be a Buckaroo” (Track 29)
Use both “Sis Jo” and “If He’d Be a Buckaroo” to experiment with on- and offbeats — use different clapping patterns, stomp your feet, or slap your knee
cowboy style! Add percussion for a real rhythmic challenge.
Listen to how Copland transforms the songs through orchestration and use of
“If He’d Be a Buckaroo,” as heard in Buckaroo Holiday (Track 31)
“Sis Jo,” as heard in Buckaroo Holiday (Track 32)
Middle & High School Extensions
Experiment with clapping on-beats and off-beats to Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” —
available from a link at (see the “Curriculum Guide”). Begin at 0:23.
Listen as the percussion’s emphasis shifts from on-beats to off-beats at 0:41.
Listen to the beat emphasis shifts from off-beats to beats 2 and 4 at 1:00.
Note: The original lyrics may not be suitable for classroom use. They are available by doing an
Internet search on the title.
Listen for shifts in beat emphasis throughout the song.
Also, experiment with on-beat and off-beat clapping to Adele’s “Someone Like
You,” available from a link at (see the “Curriculum Guide” tab).
There are no drums — nothing overtly persuading you to clap either way — just the
singer and piano.
How to Have a Great Day at the Philharmonic
Before You Come…
• Leave food, drink, candy, and gum behind — avoid the rush at the trash cans!
Activity 3
• Leave your backpack at school, too — why be crowded in your seat?
(10 minutes)
A hoe-down is a good ol’ cowboy party with square dancing, lively music, and
contests. During the evening, fiddlers compete for the fastest and most creative
improvising and dancers show off with their fanciest footwork.
Listen to two traditional fiddling tunes, “Bonaparte’s Retreat” and “McLeod’s
Reel,” that Copland used:
When You Arrive…
• Ushers will show your group where to sit. Your teachers and chaperones will
sit with you.
“Bonaparte’s Retreat” (Track 33)
• Settle right in and get comfortable! Take off your coat and put it right under
your seat.
“McLeod’s Reel” (Track 34)
• If you get separated from your group, ask an usher to help you.
Discuss: This music was meant for dancing — how might you dance “cowboy
style” to these tunes? What do you hear that might give you ideas for some
fancy footwork?
On Stage…
Activity 4
Listening and Putting It All Together
(15 minutes)
As you listen to Copland’s “Hoe-Down,” try keeping track of the contrasting
sections. In this movement you can hear many of the concepts covered
throughout this guide:
Creating scene
m Using off-beats
m Transforming folk songs with “Bonaparte’s Retreat” and “McLeod’s Reel”
m Colorful orchestrations (note use of xylophone and piano)
m Layers creating texture
Hoe-Down (Track 12)
• The orchestra will gather on stage before your eyes.
• The concertmaster enters last — the violinist who sits at the conductor’s
left hand side. Quiet down right away, because this is when the players tune
their instruments. It’s a magical sound signaling the start of an orchestra
• Then the conductor will walk on. You can clap, then get quiet and listen for
the music to begin.
• Each piece has loud parts and quiet parts. How do you know when it ends?
Your best bet is to watch the conductor. When he turns around toward the
audience, then that piece is over and you can show your appreciation
by clapping.
Listening Closely…
• Watch the conductor and see whether you can figure out which instruments
will play by where he is pointing or looking.
Elementary School Extension
• See if you can name which instruments are playing by how they sound.
Watch some other musical transformations as musicians reinterpret the Hoe-Down
tune available from links at (see the “Curriculum Guide” tab):
• Listen for the melodies and try to remember one you’ll be able to hum later.
Then try to remember a second one. Go for a third?
• Go to the bathroom at school — so you won’t have to miss a moment of
the concert!
Subway “Hoedown Throwdown”
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones “Hoedown”
Emerson, Lake and Palmer “Hoedown”
Hannah Montana “Hoedown Throwdown”
• If the music were the soundtrack of a movie, what would the setting be like?
Would there be a story?
• Pick out a favorite moment in the music to tell your family about later. But
keep your thoughts to yourself at the concert — let your friends listen in their
own ways.
Meet the Artists
Joshua Weilerstein, conductor
wenty-three year-old New York Philharmonic
Assistant Conductor Joshua Weilerstein completed
his bachelor of music degree in violin performance at the New England
Conservatory in 2009 and dual master of music degrees in orchestral
conducting and violin last May. Last season he debuted with the Houston
Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic, where as a Dudamel Fellow he
conducted a series of youth and school concerts. This season, Mr.
The New York Philharmonic
Weilerstein makes debuts with the Toronto Symphony, Frankfurt Radio and
Finnish symphony orchestras, Oslo Philharmonic, and Deutsche Radio
Philharmonie, among others. Last January he conducted the Símon
Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela with his sister, cellist Alisa
he New York Philharmonic is by far the oldest symphony orchestra in
the United States, and one of the oldest in the world. It was founded
in 1842 by a group of local musicians, and currently plays about 180
Theodore Wiprud, host
concerts every year. On May 5, 2010, the Philharmonic will give its 15,000th
concert – a record that no other symphony orchestra in the world has ever
Chair, at the New York Philharmonic since 2004. He
reached. The Orchestra currently has 106 members. It performs mostly at
began his teaching career at Walnut Hill School, near
Avery Fisher Hall, at Lincoln Center, but also tours around the world. The
omposer and educator Theodore Wiprud has
been Director of Education, The Sue B. Mercy
Boston. After directing national grantmaking programs
at Meet the Composer, he returned to the classroom as a Teaching Artist
Orchestra’s first concerts specifically for a younger audience were organized
in New York City schools. Mr. Wiprud went on to create education and
by Theodore Thomas for the 1885–86 season, with a series of 24 “Young
community engagement programs for the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the
People’s Matinees.” The programs were developed further by conductor
American Composers Orchestra, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. At the
New York Philharmonic, Mr. Wiprud oversees programs ranging from the
Josef Stransky, who led the first Young People’s Concert in January of 1914.
historic Young People’s Concerts and the Very Young People’s Concerts,
The Young People’s Concerts were brought to national attention in 1924 by
to the School Partnership Program and adult education programs. He has
“Uncle Ernest” Schelling, and were made famous by Leonard Bernstein in
hosted the Philharmonic’s School Day Concerts since 2005 and the
the 1960s with live television broadcasts.
Weilerstein, as soloist.
Young People’s Concerts since 2009.
School Day Concert CD
Track Listing
Aaron Copland Suite from Billy the Kid (1938)
1 Introduction: The Open Prairie
2 Street in a Frontier Town
3 Mexican Dance and Finale
4 Prairie Night: Card Game
5 Gun Battle
6 Celebration: After Billy’s Capture
7 Billy’s Death
8 The Open Prairie Again
Aaron Copland Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo (1942)
9 Buckaroo Holiday
10 Corral Nocturne
11 Saturday Night Waltz
12 Hoe-Down
Instructional Excerpts and Folk Songs
13 Excerpt 1: The Open Prairie (Unit 2, Activity 2)
14 Excerpt 2: The Open Prairie (Unit 2, Activity 2)
15 Excerpt 3: The Open Prairie (Unit 2, Activity 2)
16 Melodic Fragment 1 (cello): Prairie Night (Unit 2, Activity 4)
17 Melodic Fragment 2 (flute): Prairie Night (Unit 2, Activity 4)
18 Melodic Fragment 3 (violin): Prairie Night (Unit 2, Activity 4)
19 “Great-Granddad” (Unit 3, Activity 2)
20 “Goodbye, Old Paint” (Unit 3, Activity 2)
21 “Git Along, Little Dogies” (Unit 3, Activity 2)
22 “Great Granddad,” as heard in Street in a Frontier Town (Unit 3, Activity 4)
23 “Git Along Little Dogies,” as heard in Street in a Frontier Town (Unit 3, Activity 4)
Copland: Suite from Billy the Kid
New York Philharmonic; Leonard Bernstein, conductor (1959)
Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment
24 “Goodbye, Old Paint,” as heard in Mexican Dance and Finale (Unit 3, Activity 4)
25 Clarinets and oboe in The Open Prairie (Unit 4, Activity 1)
26 Trumpet and trombone in Street in a Frontier Town (Unit 4, Activity 1)
27 Piccolo, clarinet, and xylophone in Celebration: After Billy’s Capture (Unit 4, Activity 1)
28 “Goodbye, Old Paint,” as heard in Mexican Dance and Finale (Unit 4, Activity 3)
29 “If He’d Be a Buckaroo” (Unit 5, Activity 2)
30 “Sis Jo” (Unit 5, Activity 2)
31 “If He’d Be a Buckaroo,” as heard in Buckaroo Holiday (Unit 5, Activity 2)
32 “Sis Jo,” as heard in Buckaroo Holiday (Unit 5, Activity 2)
33 “Bonaparte’s Retreat” (Unit 5, Activity 3)
34 “McLeod’s Reel” (Unit 5, Activity 3)
Copland: Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo
New York Philharmonic; Leonard Bernstein, conductor (1960)
Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment
Track 16 courtesy of New York Philharmonic Teaching Artist Wendy Law
Track 17 courtesy of New York Philharmonic Teaching Artist Elizabeth Janzen
Tracks 18 and 33-34 courtesy of New York Philharmonic Senior Teaching Artist David Wallace
Tracks 19-21 and 29-30 courtesy of New York Philharmonic Teaching Artist Colin McGrath
“Charles M. Russell and His Friends” by Charles M. Russell (cover); Reward poster for Billy The Kid, 1880
(page 5); “Round-Up on the Musselshell” by Charles M. Russell (page 10); “Singing Cowboy” by Norman
Rockwell, courtesy of The Norman Rockwell Family Agency (page 15); “The Wagon Boss” by Charles M.
Russell (page 20); “The Cowboy” by Frederic Remington (page 24).